What to do if your pet has a seizure
What to do if your pet has a seizure:
One of the scariest things is to see your pet family-member go into a seizure. Seizures can be caused by disease processes both in the brain or intracranial. Seizures arising from problems in the organ systems or due to toxins are classified as extra-cranial. Epilepsy is the most common cause of intracranial seizures in animals and it is usually diagnosed before the age of 5, but if an animal has mild or infrequent seizure activity it can be first diagnosed at a later age. Other causes of intracranial seizures include viral, fungal or bacterial encephalitis, tumors, head trauma, degenerative diseases, parasites, or induced granulomas to name a few. In older animals brain tumors are high on the list of possibilities especially if the animal is older and has never had seizures before. Extra-cranial seizures can occur if a toxin was ingested that affects the brain, or if the animal is experiencing low blood sugar, liver diseases or liver shunts, or low calcium levels. With extra-cranial seizures and especially if the cause is a toxin, there are signs of a problem like weakness, shaking or trembling, and altered mentation or awareness that occur before the actual seizure takes place.
What to do and what not to do when your pet has a seizure:
First even though it looks scary stay calm. If your pet is overcome by a seizure and is in danger of falling such as down the stairs or off a bed or couch, or is outside by a pool or other danger, pull them down onto the floor or away from the pool edge or other hazard.
Never ever stick anything into the mouth including your hands and hard objects
They are not aware of what they are doing and the seizure will cause their teeth to clamp down and if it is your hand you will receive a very painful and deep bite. They cannot swallow their tongues. If they should have water, food or vomitus in the mouth then pick up the body so the head is lower than the chest and let the food or water fall out.
Ideally you want to time or keep track of how long the seizure lasts:
Most animals come out in a short period of time from the actual convulsing movements but it seems like forever when you are watching. Timing both the length of time while actively convulsing and then also the length of time afterwards (called the postictal period -seizing has stopped but is not yet acting completely normal). If any triggers or events occurred before the seizure occurred like noise, lights, activity, or smell can also be helpful and useful information to pass along to your veterinarian.
Get care as soon as possible!
Anytime an animal has a first seizure witnessed then your pet should be taken to your veterinarian as soon as possible afterwards, even if he or she seems completely back to normal. There are some diseases that need to be checked for and ruled out in determining what could be the cause of the seizure activity.
Not every animal that has a seizure is started on anti-seizure medication, it will depend on the results of blood work to determine if there are any extra-cranial causes for the seizure. How long the seizure lasted, if it was a cluster type of activity in which the pet goes in and out of the convulsing state without a period of normal activity and mentation in between and how often the seizures occur. Typically if a seizure lasts less than 3 minutes and is less frequent than every 4-6 weeks then the anti-seizure medicine can be harder on the animals system than the seizure itself.
In the rare cases that your animal is experiencing status epilepticus which is convulsing lasting longer than 3 minutes or they are having cluster seizures then you need to take your pet into the closest veterinarian or emergency clinic so that medication can be given to stop the seizing process. This fortunately is rare and the vast majority of pets come out of the convulsive stage of a seizure in less than a minute.